Day trip to Chianti


Tuscany is a real gem - lots of historical and beautiful art cities such as Florence, Siena, Lucca, Pisa, Arezzo.... then beaches, mountains and of course the very famous countryside -who doesn't have a postcard in their mind with Tuscany panorama?
Sweet hills, little Borgos, small villages on top of the hill, cute and delicious trattorias and wine cellar where it is possible to taste excellent wines especially our local Chianti wine.

So, here you can find some tips to discover some of my favourite places in the Tuscan area

ALERT: In Italy you cannot drink and drive - laws has just been changed, and now half glass of wine is enough to be out of the rules. So, if you want to enjoy wine-tastings either some of your party will not drink, or you can hire a car and driver, possibly english speaking, so no problem AT ALL.
In case you wish some tips for that, write me, I know very good and professional drivers, personally tested.

Day trip to Chianti from Florence

Leave Florence towards Siena passing by the ancient gate of the city Porta Romana and follow directions to Siena on the Superstrada Firenze-Siena.
Few km later, you will see on your right an extensive cemetery where over 4000 soldier from Usa (especially) and other countries, rest in peace - it is a very important Second World War Cemetery

On your left, right after the exit Bargino, you will see the very modern and impressive Antinori wine cellar - if you wish to visit it, book well in advance your tasting and/or visit to cellar and exit at Bargino itself.

Our first stop will be the famous and beautiful medieval town of San Gimignano. Right before your exit Poggibonsi, you will see in distance a cradle of tall and slender tower-houses, the symbol of San Gimignano.
San Gimignano

About 8 km of sweet turns you will park outside of the ancient gate and take the first epic panorama photo from the wall before getting into the town. Wander around the small streets, shop in the few not touristy places  - I noticed especially a couple of leather shops that looked very very good.
If you have a strong stomach, visit the tortures museum, the best in this topic - difficult to suggest if going after or before lunch....
Climb a tower-house if you wish, this is the most commun type of civil house in the 12th and 13th century - it was used to defend the family in case of attack and they could arrive also to 90 metres - a real skyscraper! Consider in Florence there were 150 tower-houses, then all beheaded to 35-40 metres. San Gimignano is the only town that still preserve 11 tower-houses at original height. Impressive! And iconic.

San Gimignano suffers of very strong mass-tourism attack - so in season it could happen that is very crowded and no parking are available. A good alternative, not far and similar is Certaldo - a very cute medieval town, also with a tower-house, on top of the hill with dramatic panorama.

View from San Gimignano

Ready for your first wine-tasting and lunch?

Take back your car and put Fattoria di Sant'Appiano in your GPS. In 15-20 minutes from San Gimignano (or 5 minutes from the exit of Poggibonsi, in case you are not going to San Gimignano) you will reach this peaceful, relaxing and charming Fattoria - two nice ladies, mother and daughter, will show you how they restyled a 1400 house owned by the glorious Pitti Family and now they host  cooking classes, truffle hunting, wine-tastings accompanied by excellent home made food. And of course the principal activity of the fattoria - olives and grapes harvest!
You will visit the cellar, which is always a dream - a wine-smelly dream. mmmm adorable.
Definitely a good spot, out of the most touristic path, with big buses and lots of crowds.
Cellar at Fattoria Sant'Appiano

Fattoria Sant'Appiano

Ok, should we try also another place?

So, go back on the Superstrada Firenze-Siena towards Firenze - exit at San Donato and go right. You finally will connect with the world-wide famous road of wine n. 222 - it is gorgeus, I admit, but it is not the only road where you can enjoy spectacular views. All the Chianti area is very scenograpic, don't worry about getting the 222 if it is not in your plan. Don't feel guilty ;)

After few stops for taking pictures to a scenary to die for (I swear, you will stop!) you finally get to Azienda Agricola Poggio Amorelli, on top of a gentle hill covered with wineyards, resting after the harvest and waiting for spring.


Mangiafoco - delicious

Tray of cold cuts and cheeses

Today I'm going to talk about this place, where I go really often, especially for lunch cause it is in the heart of the city center, two steps away from Ponte Vecchio, it is open also later than usual, like 3 - 4 pm, and of course because it is really really good!

I'm talking about Mangiafoco, a cute, warm and romantic wine-bar with an extensive menu that goes with superb wines.
During lunch and dinner time (12,30 - 2,00 pm lunch and 7,30 - 10,00 pm for dinner) you will find different type of pasta, also homemade one. And then meat, vegetarian options and in season also a special Truffle Menu.

Out of the ordinary lunch and dinner time, you still can have amazing trays of cold cuts and cheeses (believe me, they have the best products!) or beautiful salads or just some vegetables with a buffalo mozzarella.

Upon request, they can organize also wine tastings - 2 or 3 different type of wines, accompanied by a tray of crostini, schiacciata, prosciutto, salame, pecorino cheese, truffled honey and jams.

I love Mangiafoco!
Make yourself a favor and go there, Elisa and Francesco will take good care of you!


Via Borgo Ss. Apostoli,  26r
0039 055 2658170

Ravioli with cheese and pears

Tagliata with artichokes

Cute atmosphere

Excellent wine list

Dado di manzo - cube of meat


Christmas and New Year's Eve in Florence

Florence is amazing during winter Holidays! Streets and shops are "dressed" with colours, lights, hearts, Christmas's trees and all that lovvy doggy things :)
This year actually also the main artistic and historic sights are totally new enlightened thanks to F-Light Festival, a modern system of lights - images-colours projection on the buildings. Old Bridge, Santo Spirito Façade, ex-Court in SS Firenze are simply amazing!

In Santa Croce square the traditional Christmas Market, typical of Northern Italy and Austrian areas - excellent vin brulé, beer and nice gifts.

In Piazza del Carmine Santa Claus Village with a ice-skating facility, different games for kids and the real mail-box to send Christmas letters to Santa Claus!

Cathedrale Square  - Thanks to Firenze Repubblica.it


I haven't received any official communication yet, but I guess during festivities museums will be regularly open - except on December 24th and 31st when Uffizi, Accademia and Pitti Palace will close an hour earlier, so at 05,50 pm instead of 06,50 pm.

On December 25th and January 1st no museum will be open - except some extraordinary openings that eventually will be decided last minute, that I will update on this post straight away.

Temporary exhibition "Divine Beauty" at Palazzo Strozzi will be open daily 10,00 am to 08,00 pm - also on December 24th - 25th and January 1st

My boyfriend - David

Restaurants open on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve

Ok, it will be a bit hard to find a lot of places open on Christmas day, cause in Italy it is really strong to keep up with traditions, and so we definitely prefer to stay home with our families and cook ourselves, stay basically 4/5 hours at the table, eat like there is no tomorrow, and play with kids and games like Tombola.
Since I cannot invite you all at my house, here some names for your December 25th meal in Florence:


New Opera Duomo Museum - a spectacular museum!

It was already one of my favourite museums - then they decided to close for another restauration, they just reopened on Oct 29th 2015 and I have to admit that I have almost cried... it is so intense, moving, beautiful and worth-seeing museum! The best.

Opera of Duomo opens in 1891 to host the Pieta of Michelangelo, without a home... then it became the deposit of many many sculptures, paintings, sacred objects - that were before kept inside the Cathedral or inside the Baptistry, and then got replaced by more modern pieces.

Ancient Façade Room

Arnolfo di Cambio, the main architect of the Cathedral, started the works on September 8th 1296 - and he worked also to the main façade. Unfortunately he died before the Cathedral and the façade were finished (poor destiny for medieval architects... they never survived to their projects!)
In 1587 the façade was totally demolished, and finally accomplished only in 1881!
Did you know that our façade was so young?

So, they have reconstruct a 1:1 scale façade with the original statues... it represents the ancient space between Cathedral doors and Baptistry - so if you turn around you will admire also the beautiful gilded bronze doors by Ghiberti!
It is a magnificent setting, a moving room, you will find yourself in tears. Outstanding

Virgin Mary with brilliant eyes

The Paradise Gate - Lorenzo Ghiberti
Ancient Façade Room

Beheading of St. John the Baptist - Rustici

Detail of Paradise Gate - Mosé

Donatello's Magdalene and Michelangelo's Pietà

On the ground floor you will admire 2 incredibly intense statues: the wood Magdalene by Donatello, founded lost in the desert after years of wandering, she was devasted, skinny, her clothes were destroyed... she is surprised to see you, and she opens a bit her mouth. A superb and moving representation of Magdalene

And what about the Pietà by Michelangelo?


My personal Tripadvisor - Restaurants in Florence

Buca Lapi - Bistecca
Tripadvisor is the most utilized way to check out Hotels and Restaurants; at least to have an idea of the type of place, where is located and see some photos. I do it myself too, and I also write feedbacks. But somehow you also have to be careful with Tripadvisor, cause not always it reflects the reality, especially when it comes to “where you are listed as position”.

So, since you often ask my opinion on where you sleep and eat, here’s my personal list

My favourite restaurants in Florence and surroundings

Tripadvisor – mmmm for the restaurants section I do not entirely agree ! The first 20/30 places are ice cream places (Gelateria) and sandwich stands where it is a miracle if you have a stool – no problem with sandwich and icecream ,  but how can you call these places “restaurants”???
My favourite places are normally easy going Trattorias where the relationship between quality/quantity and price is very good – I like to eat, I love going out for dinner, and for me this is a big part of a trip. You will find in my list also some gourmet place, but in general I’m not that type of person, I enjoy fine dining, but it is kind of too much, especially the too formal atmosphere.

Then another aspect to clarify – all of you ask me “I don’t want a tourist place” – I understand you wish a place where you do not have a fix menu with photos and 200 languages, or those creapy buffet places, but if you mean “I don’t want to hear English speaking” well, this is NOT POSSIBLE. Not even out of the city center. So, I will tell you places very good, very friendly, where as a local I go myself too, excellent wine list but for sure you will find tourists, Florence is full of tourists, luckily, and Florentines are rare as pandas... 
Divided by category:

Easy going places, typical, casual, Tuscan food, some will reflect the stereotypical idea of Tuscany, some have a modern twist – price range 35-70 Euro

Buca Lapi - one the best Bistecca in town (T-Bone steak), a bit more pricey but absolutely worthed, very difficult to get reservation, open just for dinner 
Via del Trebbio 1/r - Tornabuoni area - 055 213768

Touch Bistro - my number one right now - fresh tuscan cuisine, with a superb presentation and a TOP service, high level - small, intimate, out of the tourist path, local. Open just for dinner, in the morning they organize private cooking classes, for small groups, with visit to the local farmers market  
Via di Mezzo 42/r, 18/red - Santa Croce area - 055 2466150
Cinghiale Bianco - I adore the staff, too friendly, special for wild boar, artichokes salad and Mascarpone Cream - open only for dinner during the week, on the weekend also for lunch 
Borgo San Jacopo, 43 - Oltrarno area - 055 215706
Mangiafoco - charming wine bar with an extensive menu for pasta lovers, meat and vegetarian eaters, but especially for those who loves wine. In the good season you will find also truflle!
Open lunch and dinner, but also in the afternoon you can taste their great trays of coldcuts and cheeses 
Borgo SS Apostoli 26/r - Ponte Vecchio area - 055 2658170

Vini e Vecchi Sapori (no website) - literally a hole in the wall, few tables, always packed, but if you are lucky to get a table you are going to love this typical, crazy, busy and super florentine place. Pappardelle with duck sauce is my choice, and also raspberries Tiramisù - open lunch and dinner 
Via dei Magazzini 3 red - Signoria area - 055 293045

Il Parione - charming trattoria, great steak, also pasta and dessert are very good. In a nice quiet street, that has the same name 
Via del Parione 74/76 red - Tornabuoni area - 055 214005
Paoli - in a beautiful historical palace with frescoed ceilings and walls, an excellent choice especially for lunch since it is in the heart of downtown, where it is not easy to find a good place during your touring day 
Via dei Tavolini 12/r - Signoria area - 055 216215
Sostanza (no website) - super easy, super rustic, excellent Bistecca and artichokes omelette, only cash payment, open lunch and dinner, difficult to get a reservation 
Via del Porcellana 25/red - Santa Maria Novella area - 055 212691
Pandemonio - let Mamma taking care of you, she will treat you like the typical italian mum, so filling you up with good food! Open lunch and dinner 
Via del Leone 50/red - Oltrarno area  - 055 224002

Vecchia Bettola (no website) - just outside of the historical center, typical and old fashioned style trattoria, try fried things like chicken or rabbit, open lunch and dinner -  Via Vasco Pratolini, 3 - Oltrarno area, outside of the ancient wall- 055 224158

13 Gobbi - busy, lively, excellent wine list, fresh homemade pasta, open lunch and dinner - Via del Porcellana 9/red - Santa Maria Novella area - 055 284015

Fonticine - excellent Bistecca, old fashioned classic


My personal Tripadvisor - Hotels in Florence

Tripadvisor is the most utilized way to check out Hotels and Restaurants; at least to have an idea of the type of place, where is located and see some photos. I do it myself too, and I also write feedbacks. But somehow you also have to be careful with Tripadvisor, cause not always it reflects the reality, especially when it comes to “where you are listed as position”.

So, since you often ask my opinion on where you should sleep and eat, here’s my personal list. Today we talk about Hotels, next post about Restaurants.

My favourite Hotels in Florence
For Hotels, I have to say , Tripadvisor’s list is not too bad, but these are my choices:

Luxury 5 Stars
Hotel Lungarno – if you can get a room overlooking the river it will be your dream becoming true- part of Salvatore Ferragamo chain (Lungarno Collection), classy and beautiful, totally restored in June 2017 - it is my special place of the heart

Hotel Savoy - total restyled in April 2018, this classic and beautiful Hotel part of Rocco Forte chain is centrally located in Piazza Della Repubblica. Excellent restaurant also, Irene

St. Regis – classic, faboulous, just been refurbished – a bit more out of the tourist path, in Piazza Ognissanti, which is a 15 minutes walking from Ponte Vecchio and Cathedral Square
Villa Cora – on the hills of Florence, if you want to escape from the chaos and breath the Tuscan hills air, a beautiful Villa just restored

Jk Place – in the beautiful Santa Maria Novella square, a boutique Hotel with a superb design, classy and modern at the same time
St Regis
Villa Cora

Portrait Firenze

4 Stars

Plenty of choice here...classic Renaissance Style, modern, cozy, big... look what’s better for you in term of location, style and of course the car – Florence is a nightmare for driving, in case you need to park your car chose a place that can take care of your car, or get out of the city centre and then move around by bus or taxi


Picasso and Spanish Modernity at Palazzo Strozzi

If you are in Florence between September 20th 2014 and January 25th 2015 and you feel like step for a second out of the "Renaissance cradle"  you should go to Palazzo Strozzi and check this exhibition out, dedicated to Pablo Picasso.

All the masterpieces, over 80, are coming all by Reina Sogia Museum in Madrid.

There is a lot of Picasso paintings, like 3 "Painter and Model", "Dora Maar" and other lovers' portraits, a really interesting settings of his preparatory drawings, engravins and etchings of Guernica.

Then Salvador Dalì faboulous "Arlequin" , Mirò, Juan Gris, Marie Blanchard.....

Open daily from 10,00 am to 08,00 pm, Thursdays until 11,00 pm

Obviously, a visit with me, maybe part of a walking tour, will be an excellent solution :)

Contact me at elisaacciai@libero.it

Enjoy it!

Pablo Picasso - neosnet.it

Guernica sketches - ilreporter.it
The painter and the model - weekendromanticotoscana.info
Dora Maar and Marie Therese - Firenze.repubblica.it

Equipe 57 and Salvador Dalì - toctocfirenze.it


Florence Bike Tour with Elaiza, me :)

Florence is a quaint city, with a pretty small city center that allows you to visit the main sights just walking from a place to another, in a short time.
But still, having a bike would be a fantastic way to enjoy the beautiful palaces, churches, Piazzas, Lungarni (the streets along the river Arno are called Lungarni)...

The best way is to rent a bike for a couple of hours or more in case you wish to go also to the hills (for example Piazzale Michelangelo and San Miniato al Monte Church).

Where? I wish to suggest you a couple of places:

Bici In Firenze is a service organized by the Comune di Firenze (city hall of Florence) and it is located in front of Santa Maria Novella train station or in Piazza Ghiberti.

The other one is Florence By Bike, located in Via San Zanobi

Bikes of Bici in Firenze
So, rent a bike of course, but call also Elaiza, which is the best way to tour around the city!
I could come to your Hotel downtown and pick you up, or we could meet somewhere - we will go to rent the bikes together and we will start a fantastic tour through the medieval streets of Florence, for the most part pedestrian.
We can lock our bikes and visit the inside of Santa Trinita Church, or Orsanmichele, or wherever you want, I'm open to discuss the itinerary with you.

on the way to Santissima Annunziata

On a bike tour with me we will certainly see:

Cathedral Square and Brunelleschi's Dome

Signoria Square

Ponte Vecchio

Repubblica Square

Strozzi Palace

Santa Trinita

Pitti Palace

Santa Maria Novella Square

Santa Croce Square

The nice weather and the Tuscan sun are coming, book a bike tour with Elaiza :)

Santa Croce

Cathedral Square

San Lorenzo

Repubblica Square

Santa Trinita

Palazzo Antinori

Palazzo Spini Feroni

Palazzo Strozzi


Santa Maria Novella


Clet - searching for his traces around Florence

Clet Abraham is a French artist, moved to Florence where he has a studio in Oltrarno.
Why I talk about him? cause I'm sure if you have been to Florence you have noticed that our streets signs sometimes were "different".... well, this is Clet!
I felt in love of his way of changing streets signs, in a very simple but funny way. He's affecting the severe sense of rules with a humour that doesn't change the utility of the street sign, but for sure it will make you smile :)

So, every day, when I'm walking alone or while I'm touring people around, I discover a new Clet's trace.... and love it!


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